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Spanish government takes control of RFEF amid investigation into corruption from Luis Rubiales’ tenure

The Spanish government created a special committee on Thursday to oversee the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) as an investigation into a multi-million corruption scheme is underway.

The Commission for Supervision, Normalization and and Representation will be in charge of operations at the RFEF until new elections for federation leaders take place, according to National Sports Council (CSD). The move was made “in response to the crisis in the organization and in defense of the general interest of Spain,” the CSD said in a statement, per Reuters.

The corruption allegations date back to the tenure of Luis Rubiales, the disgraced ex-RFEF president who led the federation from 2018 until 2013, when he was ousted for forcibly kissing player Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup trophy ceremony. Rubiales has been banned by FIFA since the event and faces further criminal punishment in Spain.

The case is centered around Rubiales’ updates to the Spanish Super Cup in 2020 when it went from a two-team competition to a four-team tournament and began to be staged in Saudi Arabia. The deal to move the Super Cup to the Middle East was reportedly worth $42 million at the time, per the Associated Press.

Rubiales was detained earlier this month and questioned by authorities in relation to the case, and one of his properties was also raided beforehand. Ten other premises were also raided, included the RFEF’s offices, and seven arrests were made.

One of the others officially under investigation is Pedro Rocha, the acting president of the RFEF, who was hopeful to get the job on a full-time basis after the elections. A judge placed him under investigation earlier this month but he denies any involvement, saying he had “no knowledge nor, therefore, any responsibility for the facts that are being investigated.”

FIFA and UEFA issued a joint statement on Thursday acknowledging the situation.

“FIFA and UEFA are closely monitoring the situation surrounding RFEF with great concern,” they said. “FIFA and UEFA will seek additional information to assess the extent to which the CSD’s appointment of the so-called ‘Supervision, Normalization and Representation Commission’ may affect the RFEF’s obligation to manage its affairs independently and without undue government interference.”

Spain is set to be one of the host nations of the 2030 World Cup, which will celebrate the 100-year history of the tournament.

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